This post of mine was published in DNA dated 16th April 12. See the link here:
Women, rise to this Challenge

When I was born, my maternal grandmother was disappointed because she wanted to have a grandson after my sister (I’ve been told). When I was growing up, there was this aunt who used to pointedly say, “What’s the big deal if she is good at studies. She is a girl. She will get married and go away.” No, I was not oppressed, got the best of opportunities in life, had a loving dad and mom, a father who till today will support any decision I take and says that self-respect must not be compromised no matter what. Yet, I’ve had numerous incidents where I heard comments related to my gender – sometimes said in a pretty matter-of-fact way. It is the truth, and we cannot shirk this fact away.

When I was in school, I had a close friend who had 4 sisters. Her youngest sister was born when her eldest one was doing her graduation! Her parents were well-educated people well-placed in life yet conditioned in their thinking. The women forced to abort their foetuses in Northern India are not necessarily from poor families. Those who want to disown their girls in hospitals and fight over someone else’s boy child, are not necessarily poor or uneducated either. Let’s face it! In India, there is a lot of desire and social conditioning for a male offspring even in today’s times, even in rich families who can afford to have girls, and even openly voiced by women! Education and exposure is making a difference, but mindsets, especially of the older generation, take a long time to change. We often fail to realize the impact that upbringing has on how a child will grow up to be an adult. Girls brought up in regressive families, tend to be meeker and more tolerant of abuse then those brought up in more liberal environment. The same applies to men brought up in families where fathers are stronger, controlling and abusive. If we don’t teach our sons to respect and love women, you can be sure that they will not when they are adults.
As a society, in India,we will do anything to have our own children — go through painful treatments and multitude of them. Many will try again and again to have male kids. Adoption is a rare option for us. Even those who adopt prefer male children and those who adopt girls will always look for “fair” girls. Oh no, this is no exaggeration. No one will even look at a child with disabilities for adoption, and darker girls find it very hard to find adoptive parents. We might shake our heads and say this is not true. But, as a society, we are still trapped in the cobwebs of our biases.
The recent incidents of the death of baby Afreen and baby Falak are truly appalling and repulsive. Poor baby Afreen gave up her struggle with life yesterday, when she was admitted to a hospital in Bangalore after being brutally attacked, bitten, and shaken by her father that caused her to have injuries that she succumbed to yesterday. She was all of 85 days old! As much as I hate her father and wish death upon him, I can’t stop wondering why her mother could not seek help about her father’s brutal beatings and assault. She knew he hated the child and repeatedly made his hatred known both physically and verbally. This is where lies the crux of the problem. Was it the poverty of her parents, financial dependence, fear of society, inability to move out of an abusive situation, or inability to raise her voice against her husband that led to this situation?
The problem is manifold — Firstly, a society that still drags forward this decayed mindset and a fascination for a male child. Secondly, the role of women in this society, the mothers and the grandmothers who are unable to protect their girl babies. Why do they yield to a man who asks them to destroy their foetusus, or who mistreats their girl child? Many times these women are educated and financially independent too, yet they keep quiet and tolerate abuse and in turn, teach their girls to bear abuse. Why have we failed to empower their minds where they can stand with what is right? Why is their fear for society forcing them to play out the charade of a happy family when they tolerate abuse and take drastic measures towards their girl children? How can mils abuse their dils and torture them when they are unable to bear boys? How can a woman do this to another woman? How can a mother not stand up for her children? I fail to understand these questions.
As a mother, I know, that I will kill to protect my children, and I am not saying this only for effect. I wish more women in India would say no more to killing of their girls!

Pic Courtesy:  Clare Bloomfield / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Hi! I am a professional Content Writer and co-owner of a Technology startup, Tranquil Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd. I am a Major in Chemistry and MBA in Marketing Management from NMIMS, Mumbai. After having worked in Brand Management, I took a sabbatical when I had my kids. I did dabble in Teaching and Medical Transcription in my quest to balance my work-life after my kids. And finally I stumbled upon writing. Having started this blog in 2008, I ventured into professional content writing. And I continue to grow and work with some amazing people in the field of writing. This blog still continues to be a strong reflection of my thinking, opinions, perceptions and wisdom. I am mother to two bratty boys and a Labrador and loving wife to a wonderful man. I go the extra mile for friends and love a good conversation. Uncomplicated, I tend to open up easily to those close to me. I have lived around the world including the US and Europe. I don't have it all figured out, but I am enjoying the journey that is life!

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75 Thoughts on “Women need to rise up to this Challenge!

  1. Rachna, this is a very meaningful post and makes me wonder the use of education if the mindset cannot change! In today’s world I see no difference between a boy and a girl except that the daughter will love you unconditionally forever!

    • Mindsets are exclusive of education. But, education can make a meaningful stride towards progress. At least an educated woman can be financially independent and hopefully will have the guts to speak out against injustice. I feel similarly but many don’t see it that way about a boy and a girl.

  2. Anonymous on April 12, 2012 at 6:41 am said:

    I think the message needs to be laced within religious teachings. As you may have observed in both cases of the infants dying ,it only happens in similar section of the society. I am not taking name of the religion etc. Its obvious !

  3. Many are killed while in the womb, many are killed as babies and many are killed daily with abuses; isn’t it.
    I sometimes wonder what education we are giving and what culture we are propagating, because no education, no religion says that women are inferior
    Where, how, why, so many questions and so very sad.
    I like the last line Rachna, yes, I too can kill for my child- male or female.

    • It just hurts me to read about so many crimes against the female child in India. What is the use of this progress if our prosperity does not let us differentiate between right and wrong.

  4. A forceful message well expressed.There are lots of things to be done at different planes to remove the warped mindset that a female is inferior to male.I do not subscribe to your view that even in educated classes this mindset prevails.There may be a few aberrations but by and large education gives the men and women a liberal outlook.
    The key to the problem is to empower the women economically and politically.Compulsory education,mark the word compulsory, upto class 12 along with larger representaion consistent with the percentage of population in legislatures and panchayats would alone within a decade bring about a sea change.Give the rural working class women their economic independence and education and see the miracle happening.But it is a daunting task.Look at the dithering for 33% reservation in legislatures.It is depressing

    • Oppression and social crimes exists in middle class household;ds too. Just 2 days back while playing in the children splay area, I got to know about a guy that married a 2nd time since his 1st wife could not have a child.

      Isnt this a crime against women? Oppression happens in all sections of the society , even among people we work with or live with in the society

    • Not all educated class, but you would have to agree that there are some well-healed families who still have different standards for their girls and boys. Yes, a woman needs to be economically empowered, and she has to stop caring about what will the society say. Because, the society must just point fingers at others but will not come to her rescue. I am surprised that women have immense strength, but they can be so weak.

    • absolutely right, Vani. It is everywhere even among the well educated.

  5. Rachna I was actually shocked to see the newspaper headlines today. I was keen on reading stuff about the earthquake that made many relive the 2004 Tsunami effect, however the Afreen story brought more grief. It is insane to even think of infant killing just because it isn’t what you wanted. How can one get to act this way – murder his own baby?

  6. Rachna I was actually shocked to see the newspaper headlines today. I was keen on reading stuff about the earthquake that made many relive the 2004 Tsunami effect, however the Afreen story brought more grief. It is insane to even think of infant killing just because it isn’t what you wanted. How can one get to act this way – murder his own baby?

  7. Rachna I was actually shocked to see the newspaper headlines today. I was keen on reading stuff about the earthquake that made many relive the 2004 Tsunami effect, however the Afreen story brought more grief. It is insane to even think of infant killing just because it isn’t what you wanted. How can one get to act this way – murder his own baby?

  8. Rachna I was actually shocked to see the newspaper headlines today. I was keen on reading stuff about the earthquake that made many relive the 2004 Tsunami effect, however the Afreen story brought more grief. It is insane to even think of infant killing just because it isn’t what you wanted. How can one get to act this way – murder his own baby?

  9. Rachna I was actually shocked to see the newspaper headlines today. I was keen on reading stuff about the earthquake that made many relive the 2004 Tsunami effect, however the Afreen story brought more grief. It is insane to even think of infant killing just because it isn’t what you wanted. How can one get to act this way – murder his own baby?

  10. Rachna I was actually shocked to see the newspaper headlines today. I was keen on reading stuff about the earthquake that made many relive the 2004 Tsunami effect, however the Afreen story brought more grief. It is insane to even think of infant killing just because it isn’t what you wanted. How can one get to act this way – murder his own baby?

  11. Rachna I was actually shocked to see the newspaper headlines today. I was keen on reading stuff about the earthquake that made many relive the 2004 Tsunami effect, however the Afreen story brought more grief. It is insane to even think of infant killing just because it isn’t what you wanted. How can one get to act this way – murder his own baby?

  12. Rachna I was actually shocked to see the newspaper headlines today. I was keen on reading stuff about the earthquake that made many relive the 2004 Tsunami effect, however the Afreen story brought more grief. It is insane to even think of infant killing just because it isn’t what you wanted. How can one get to act this way – murder his own baby?

  13. Rachna,

    A very true picture of the society. There have been some positive changes but the pace is too slow. A lot of social awakening is needed and we all need to take part in that by voicing our thoughts boldly. I hope and pray that I do see girls enjoying equal rights in my life time.

    Take care

  14. Sadly it takes generations for this attitude to be stamped out. I am 54 years old – I left school with my A levels, my mother was horrified that I spoke about further education. She simply refused to offer any support. Her reasoning was that they could only afford to send one of us to university and it would be my brother. She said quite simply that he would always have to work, where as we girls would simply get married and have children. As it happens circumstances have been such that we three girls have always been in employment, two of us have mature student qualifications – and I am extremely proud that my daughter has an MA from an excellent university!
    I think I have told you before about a friend of mine who manages a unit dealing with domestic abuse – her stories are truly heart breaking and I am horrified that the attitudes she comes across on a daily basis still prevail.

    • Wow, that is quite some story. It amazed me more because women in Western society would be in my opinion be equal. Looks like women everywhere have their own share of challenges. But, you all did so well.

  15. It is indeed horrifying to see an innocent child being repeatedly abused by the father. The child Afreen was so cute, and to think it was brought into this world only to be killed by her own father and mother. I have no sympathy for such mothers who find faults, knowing very well that one of the days the child would be killed.There are so many support systems for women in such situations, where she could have easily gone for support and protection.
    If she can point fingers at him and her in laws now, she could have easily done the very same thing the moment she suspected their mindset, and could have put them behind bars and got a divorce from that man.
    It is also true, that despite our education, we are still backwards in or thoughts and very few can change change the negative mindset.
    We have such backward beliefs, that at least 1 child should be male, that no one should die within one of your marriage in the family, if such a thing happens then the girl is looked down upon as a bad omen, and she is mentally and physically abused, one can go on with many such examples.
    Whether one has money, education or not , one knows in ones heart, what is right and what is wrong, and should never find excuses to silently be a part of the whole game and cry wolf at the last minute.

    • Indeed Rama, it is horrifying. I have sympathy for the mother, but I wish she had done more. And, I totally agree that there are so many superstitions and crazy customs that still prevail, much to the detriment of women specifically. And, exactly — everyone knows what is right and wrong. It is just the choice they make in choosing their path.

  16. You are right, education and economic independence of women does not change much in this world. It’s the stupid mindset that needs to change. Women are automatically inferior and the reason for that is also women themselves. It’s the upbringing that matters. More than education or employment , what women need to be taught is to demand respect for whatever they do. Never feel inferior for any reason. When that complex disappears , hopefully it will be a new dawn for all women in India.

    • And to demand that respect, they must have a positive self-esteem which sometimes comes from a good, healthy upbringing and their own achievements.

  17. I agree with you Rachna but now India( of course world too ) is changing, i guess, in next 10years no one cares about this matter. As the generation changes superstitions reduce exponentially. Boy or girl, every one is a human being.

  18. Honestly I haven’t seen such a comprehensive meaningful post for long in the blog sphere Rachna..Hugs to you first of all.
    Yes,the bottom line is mindset.We have a major share of women who knowingly or unknowingly have misunderstood suppression as ‘security’.We NEED to change.Only we can do it.
    Touched with each letter you picked there Rachna.It was my dream to have a girl child.And yes I have one.In spite all these negativity,there is all hope I believe.Everyday I meet at least one who think for better.Let us hope for the best.As your header says,we have to rise up to the challenge.Let us stop this ‘pleasing’ behavior and speak our heart..

    • Thank you for such heartening words, Melange. Hugs to you too. It was my dream to have a girl child too. Sadly, it was not fulfilled. I hope too that some day, all girls in our country will have the opportunity that they deserve, and we women have to make it happen more than the men.

  19. BleSSed has left a new comment on your post “Women need to rise up to this Challenge!”:

    Hey Rachna,
    I’d like to publish this post in DNA’s Around the Blog section. Do let me know if you’re okay with it with the link at dna dot blessy at gmail dot com
    Thanks

  20. Nicely put, Rachna!! We still have a long way to go!!

  21. Very well said and ideas aptly captured and articulated. I had a similar post sometime back. Do check it out if you have some time!
    http://deepa-duraisamy.blogspot.com/2012/03/womens-day-really.html

  22. I voice the same word to word. As much appalled I feel; I feel resentment towards such a society. Kudos to you for such an open post. Loved it

  23. For those who are bringing up children, this is a very good post to learn from. We need to raise our children as human beings and not as boys and girls so that they will respect other human beings. As for the criminals, and perverts, unless the laws are strict enough to give them punitive punishments which will ensure that they never repeat such acts again and also act as deterrents. But that is not happening and doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon.

    • Thank you Zephyr for such encouraging words. You know how much I value your appreciation. Yes, criminals and perverts have to be dealt with severely by law. At least, the Domestic Violence Act is pretty stiff. These women are just not making use of it either out of lack of awareness or the inability to act.

  24. Your story was really touching when you narrated your childhood stories. Normally Indians are, to a certain extend, conventional about the gender of the child. But only far sighted well educated parents would treat their girld child as equal as their boys. You were lucky in that way..

    • Thank you Tomz! Yes, I am extremely lucky. My parents were super good. I really appreciate them for what they did, more so now that I am a parent and understand how tough it is to bring up kids in a balanced way. My dad is an ideal for me!

  25. The problem is deep rooted. I have twin daughters and I have been told by many ‘educated’ people to get a male offspring. Shockingly, nearly all of these have been women.

    • I wouldn’t say that it is shocking because I’ve seen women like that. They have no sense of what to talk and in what tone. I feel ashamed that their gender is feminine, and they are the ones who malign their gender the most. This crazy mentality just prevails.

  26. Rachna, very well written. We women have to stand up for ourselves. If we can’t protect our own baby girls, who else can? Sadly, education and financial independence don’t buy us freedom of thoughts or expression. We are subject to atrocities and submit to the older generation. And what you say about adoption is true, i have seen a family who adopted a ‘fair’ girl,who when grew up, ran away!Unless women speak for themselves, there is no hope. May the babies Falak and Afreen RIP.

    • Thank you Cloud Nine! Women have to protect their babies and also know how to handle other women who pressurize them to have more babies especially males and kill girl children. It is quite sickening that we have to discuss this in this time and age.

  27. You were lucky Rachna, to have good parents, who loved you enough.

    There you have it, if parents support and protect, no one can stop, girls being cherished. It is irrespective of lower, middle or upper class.

    http://www.dreamspaces.blogspot.com

    • Yes, I had truly wonderful parents. I agree that as parents, we bring the children into the world, and we are responsible for protecting them from any harm.

  28. these incidents are appalling and as a mother it shocks & shakes me in such strange ways. when i heard about Afreen, i too was thinking how come the mother put up with all that. how come her parents not act faster. you are right – it is a very complex situation. all i know is as a mother, i would not let anyone, not even her own father, to hurt our child … yeah maybe even as you said “kill to protect”
    most mothers are equally responsible for what happens to their children esp when it is the case of within the family abuse as in Afreen’s case. we need such a huge change in our mindsets

    • It is very complex, as you rightly pointed out. But,as a mother her instinct should have been to protect her child in any which way. Her husband’s apathy did not come out of the blue. He is a monster that is an accepted fact.

  29. So many girls in India told me that they were only going to college to get a degree and they only wanted a degree to “get a good husband”. Not exactly the point of getting educated, but hey :-)

  30. u make such a sensible post very heart touching…but very sad to hear that still this girl child abuse going on..

  31. But if you educate your daughter well, make her believe that the sky is the limit, how is she any different from a son?

  32. I am not saying she is different. Women are excelling where they get equal opportunities, but many times they start on the back foot due to biases, and it is sad to see that many of these biases are perpetrated by other women themselves.

  33. Rachna you are right..but abortion is not only one problem that a female fetus has to face.once a girl grows up she has to abort her emotions,her ego,her wishes for others sake again and again.

  34. Rachna, this an important issue that you have raised in this post- You have ended with the question as to why the mother could not have done anything about saving her child- well the answer is that mothers often are conditioned to same the thinking that fathers are- it is a certain value system. It is often the women in families who convince their Daughters or daughters in law to abort their fetus. It is a thinking that needs to be changed – not people…!!! I have read a report that says that one of the most well to do residential areas in South Delhi is also the place with the most skewed sex ratio!So there! You need to have money to “manufacture a male child” through sex selection. The poor usually do not have resources for that.

    • I agree Meera that it is the women who are putting more social pressure on other women. I agree that it is the mindset that needs changing. I just don’t know how that will be achieved. Why is it so difficult to teach someone not to do wrong, or to illtreat or misbehave or kill a girl child? What you say makes a lot of sense. But, the whole situation alarms me when I see women fitting into stereotypes of gender typecasting.

  35. nice article
    still today in India educated families also keep producing kids until they get the Male child.

  36. It’s so disgusting to see what people do to babies! Poor Afreen and Falak! When will people realise the importance of a girl child or stop this gender discrimination. They keep suppressing us at every possible stage.
    It’s already becoming increasingly evident that Grooms are finding it difficult to get a bride, because there’s very less girls – that’s a fact! The ratio of boy:girl is so badly detoriating.

  37. Thanks for liking my jewerly I live in Chicago,usa.. Let me know the items plz mail me ingeniousmrs@gmail.com. Will be eagerly waiting to hear from you :)

  38. Lovely, excellent piece of writing, Rachna. You’ve raised all the valid points, so beautifully!
    I wish more women are empowered in the true sense and rise to the occasion.
    I loved the way you write. Following you now.

  39. I am off to your post now.

  40. Wonderful post Rachna. WE saw and heard from such women in an episode of Satyamev Jayate. I feel the mental conditioning of women has been done for many centuries now..it will take time to change but I believe we all are catalysts of this change and I am glad that I am able to blog about it and do my bit to do something…

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